LGBT migrants face abuse, discrimination in Mexico

Published: October 30, 2014

Washington blade
Michael K. Lavers
Original Article:

Mexican immigration officials in Tapachula near the Guatemalan border in the state of Chiapas on Oct. 22, 2013, took into custody Ender Manuel Martínez, an LGBT rights advocate from El Salvador, when he tried to apply for asylum because of death threats he said he received in his Central American homeland because of his activism and sexual orientation.

He alleges authorities at the Tapachula detention facility housed him with those who were mentally ill. Martínez says they did not allow him to bathe, forced him to sleep on a damp floor and demanded “sexual favors” from him in exchange for better food.

Officials last December transferred Martínez to another detention facility outside of Mexico City where he said guards subjected him to sexual harassment and anti-gay discrimination. Julio Campos Cubías, general coordinator of Migrantes LGBT, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBT migrants, told the Washington Blade on Monday that Martínez also did not receive proper medical care for a ruptured gallbladder while in custody.

Martínez remained in custody until May when Migrantes LGBT and other advocacy groups convinced authorities to allow him to pursue his asylum claim outside the detention facility.

“My intention is to stay here and to be part of Mexico,” Martínez, 32, told the Mexican website Animal Politico after his release. “I would like to be seen as a citizen that fights to take his country forward.”

Campos told the Blade during an interview at the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (ILGA) World Conference in Mexico City that Martínez’s case is “very emblematic for us.”

Mexican law bans anti-gay discrimination, but the country’s immigration statutes do not include LGBT-specific protections.

Mexico City law bans discrimination based on national origin and sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Migrants and asylum seekers are among the marginalized groups with whom the Mexico City Council to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination, which enforces the Mexican capital’s sweeping anti-discrimination law, works.

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